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Oscar Wilde (The Exile) the play. Part 1
Oscar Wilde (The Exile) the play. Part 1

Oscar Wilde (The Exile) the play. Part 1

Franc68Lorient Montaner

Oscar Wilde (The Exile) the play.

-Written by Franc Rodriguez

(Contents)

Dramatis
Personae ix

ACT I

ACT II

ACT III

ACT IV

ACT V

ACT VI

(Dramatis Personae)

OSCAR WILDE-A playwright and writer.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS-The son of the Marquess of Queensberry.

ROBERT ROSS-A library executor and close confidant of Oscar Wilde.

CONSTANCE WILDE-The wife of Oscar Wilde.

REGINALD TURNER-An English author.

MORE ADEY-An English art critic.

STEWARD HEADLAM-An English socialist.

FRANK HARRIS-An Irish American novelist.

ÉMILE ZOLA-A French novelist.

ANDRÉ GIDE-A French author.

ADA LEVERSON-An English author.

RICHARLD HALDANE-An English philosopher.

ROBERT SHERRARD-An English journalist.

STEPHAN MALLARME-A French poet.

PAUL VERLAINE- A French poet.

JEAN MOREAS-A Greek poet.

ERNEST LA JEUNESSE-A French poet.

LAURENCE HOUSMAN-An English playwright.

LEONARD SMITHERS-An English publisher.

SARAH BERNHARDT-A famous French actress and playwright.

HAROLD MELLOR-An Englishman.

Scenes in England, France, Italy and Switzerland, in the year 1897-1900.

ACT I.

SCENE I.

At Caledonian Road, the 19th of May in London, England.

Oscar Wilde is released after finishing his two-year sentence. He walks through the Pentonville's gate in London, a free man. He is put afterwards in a taxi heading towards Caledonian Road, where his friends and supporters the art critic More Adey, and Stewart Headlam, an author are awaiting him. They embrace him. Wilde is full of emotions and relief.

OSCAR WILDE.
I had yearned for this day to arrive. For two whole years, I have languished in the throes of my woes. Never, to know, when that day would eventually see the light of its fruition. I am dazed with the wonder of the beautiful world. I feel, as if I have been raised from the dead, like Lazarus.

MORE ADEY.
Oscar my dear friend. What pleasure it brings me to see you once more. We have been waiting for this day as well. Now that it is finally here, what shall you desire?

OSCAR WILDE.
Desire? I should only desire for now, a fresh bed, a fresh bath, a fresh beginning. That is what I desire the most at this moment.

STUART HEADLAM.
Spoken like a humble man. Once at my home, you can have all those things Oscar and more. I have planned for a wonderful surprise.

OSCAR WILDE.
A surprise. I am grateful for this surprise. Now, I have time to enjoy the pleasures of life anew. Be one with the beauty of life, and in the company of those, who I regard my dearest friends of leisure.

MORE ADEY.
Believe me Oscar, you shall not be disappointed. Moreover, it is better that we enjoy the finest things about life, in company of those individuals we cherish the most.

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed. I could have not said it better, my friend. Despite the toils of prison life, I have not forgotten what a fresh breath of air is. I have taken for granted that breath of air, and I know now that it is far better than a breathless death.

STUART HEADLAM.
Don't look back at the past Oscar. You have a present and future that shall guide you to your success.

OSCAR WILDE.
That would be a magnificent dream to be in. An endless thought that would fill my mind with ease. I have suffered enough in those wretched prisons, to not want to taste their affliction again, nor see the haunting guises of their punishment.

MORE ADEY.
Don't be sorrowful Oscar. You are amongst friends now. Let us rid you of your miseries and toils and replace them with the joy of living.

OSCAR WILDE.
Oh...the joy of living. I have not seen that joy for many days and many nights I sigh. I have been a prisoner of time and because of time, I have lost its course and cannot regain what has been lost.

MORE ADEY.
True Oscar, but you can make new memories and appreciate them, with those persons that cherish you.

OSCAR WILDE.
Cherish? It is an admirable word that sadly has been forgotten in its practice. Your point is valid. Hitherto, I shall create new memories and yes, I shall learn to cherish them as much as the older ones forsaken.

STUART HEADLAM.
You must Oscar. You alone carry that beacon of hope in your dreams and aspirations. It is not too late to reconcile the past with the present, but I suggest that you search amidst your soul, for the man that you wish to be.

OSCAR WILDE.
Spoken like a genuine man of divinity. Your words are sagacious and reflect the one thing that I have dreaded I had lost, and that was hope. I cannot tell you both, how much I have spent hours in my solitary confinement, just imagining the taste of hope in my mouth. It is a hunger that makes a man quench for its bite.

STUART HEADLAM.
Any man that had experienced what you have experienced Oscar would go insane. You, on the other hand, are sane and bold.

OSCAR WILDE.
I don't know if that is a compliment my friend. I shall accept it as one but know that I have had my bouts of insanity. Although they were brief—yet they have existed. I am not foolish to believe that they are gone and will be gone forever.

MORE ADEY.
There is no need to ponder those terrible things, Oscar. Think about the life that is awaiting you. In France, you will be lavished with accolades and acceptance.

OSCAR WILDE.
Accolades. I do not desire them at the moment. As for acceptance, I can only hope one day England will accept me back as a hero and not, as a villain. It is my sole wish that I return to England, as the great Oscar Wilde.

MOREY ADE.
That would be a remarkable thing to witness Oscar. You are worthy of such acclamation. I can think of no one better, who has charmed England than you.

OSCAR WILDE.
My charm my friend, I hope has not abandon me. I can't conceive living the rest of my natural life, behind my shadow and my soul.

STUART HEADLAM.
Perhaps, we should leave now. Your friends are waiting for you back at the house.

In a taxi heading towards King's Cross Station, Wilde discusses books that he had enjoyed in prison, such as Dante Alighieri, Gustave Flaubert, Charles Baudelaire, Alexandre Dumas, amongst others.

SCENE II.

At the home of Stuart Headlam in Bloomsbury, England.

Oscar Wilde is greeted by his close admirers. He is amazed by the warm reception. (Applauses are heard.)

MOREY ADEY.
Behold, the king of aestheticism is back. May I present you, Oscar Wilde.

OSCAR WILDE.
Frankly I must say, I do not know if I am befitting of a king, but if you deem me worthy of one, then I shall gladly assume the status of royalty and bow to my admirers.

ROBERT SHERARD.
It is good to see you with your charm and wit anew Oscar. We have been waiting for this day to come. Now, that it has come, will you do us the honour of saying some words to us, so that we could say, that we uttered the same words of Oscar Wilde.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am extremely flattered, by all of your expressive gestures of kindness. How could I ever repay you, for being supportive of me and of my cause? I must be candid when I declare, there is nothing worse than not being talked about. To be forgotten, is only the shadow of a drear solitude that I have experienced, and hope to not see again anon. I am not an anonym.

ADA LEVERSON.
You speak with such eloquence, as always Oscar. There is nothing that is shallow about you, when you speak the truth. This truth appears, as an echo of your mind and soul.

FRANK HARRIS.
Ireland owes you a great debt of gratitude, and the world does as well. There can be nothing grander than the man that has championed the Irish cause, in the name of art.

OSCAR WILDE.
I once said that life imitates art far more than art imitates life, and after my time in prison, I still believe in that conviction. No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist. I champion the cause of the artist, as I once championed the cause of aestheticism. It is in my veins. No man can be greater than the manifestation of his art. I am an example of that.

RICHARLD HALDANE.
Your words are admirable and speak a great volume of truth. As a statesman myself, I have always believed in reforming the common man and his plight. In your case Oscar, you are not the common man.

OSCAR WILDE.
Forgive me if I chuckle my friend, for I do not chuckle out of hauteur, but merely out of the irony of those candid words reflected by your wisdom.

ADA LEVERSON.
Have you planned on what to write next? I know that whatever you write, will be an immediate success. The public is yearning for another one of your plays.

OSCAR WILDE.
That I do not know at the moment Sphinx, but whatever I shall write will be for the posterity to enjoy.

ROBERT SHERARD.
The people will remember you, as Oscar Wilde, the poet, the playwright and the man.

OSCAR WILDE.
I have had enough time in those wretched prison cells to reflect on precisely that notion of regard, but I suppose that the only one that can know of that is Robert and I. As a superb writer, I trust that he will do a fine job, as my future biographer.

ROBERT SHERARD.
It would be my honour Oscar. To be honest, I doubt that any biographer could do justice to your art and to your accomplishments, as an artist.

MORE ADEY.
He is correct Oscar. The world beckons to hear you speak, to hear your plays. What would we do without you?

OSCAR WILDE.
I suppose the world could learn to appreciate the artist much better and learn not be so easily judgemental. The world was once my canvas, but now, I am afraid it is a place where I must dwell, where I must learn to please once more. This time, it is not the audience in the theatre that I must please, but the audience that is the world.

ADA LEVERSON.
Please tell us Oscar that you will not stop believing in your talent and ingenuity. You are a genius. There is so much you have not written that needs to be read.

OSCAR WILDE.
Flattering will get you far in this world Sphinx. It will get you to the point, where you desire to have it and taste it at the same time. I have put all my genius into my life. I put only my talent into my words. If I am deemed a genius than allow me to reap the success of my endeavours passionately.

ADA LEVERSON.
Have you decided what to do, now that you are a free man again Oscar?

MORE ADEY.
Where do you plan on going? Shall you be staying in England?

OSCAR WILDE.
To Paris. I must entertain the Parisians. I hear that they have been yearning to have me there in France, as an honourable guest.

FRANK HARRIS.
Shall you ever return to England Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
That all depends. Return to what? If you are referring to the country, then I hope one day soon to return. If you are referring to the hypocrites that have chased me like haunting ghosts, then I wish to have no part of this face of England for the nonce.

SCENE III.

At Dieppe, France.

Before he boards the steamer to Dieppe, Oscar Wilde stops at Hatchards, London's oldest bookshop. Robert Ross and another friend Reginald Turner, meet him there at Dieppe, France to welcome him.

ROBERT ROSS.
My dearest of all my dear friends Oscar. I hope your trip has been pleasant.

OSCAR WILDE.
My dear Robbie, for it is a blessing to see you again, as a free man. At last, I have tasted the breath of liberty, and I shall not take it for granted. I have yearned to be in the wonderments of France. There is nothing like Paris, with the exception of London.

REGINALD TURNER.
You look remarkable Oscar, despite your time imprisoned. I would not even know that you had spent time in that Hades.

OSCAR WILDE.
You are much too flattering Reggie. I have been through hell and back, with my worn and torn aspect, but I shall not permit it to ruin my succulent meals and presence, at the most elegant restaurants in Paris.

ROBERT ROSS.
I could not disagree with you. Who else could be more elegant than you? As your dearest friend, I am happy to see you stand triumphant again.

OSCAR WILDE
Paris, is the essential of artistic expression and extravagant cuisines. I have nothing to be ashamed about to lower my head, for I am guilty of only being myself. Let the first man that judges me, throw the first stone against me.

ROBERT ROSS.
I hope one day Oscar, the righteous ones that cast aspersion of love do not deem our manner of loving unnatural.

OSCAR WILDE.
Unnatural? There is nothing unnatural about the affection between two men. It is as natural, as that demonstrated between a man and a woman. Whatever sin it represents to the self-righteous, it is no sin to me. Besides, I did not come to France to indulge the Parisians, with such trivial things. I came to be me, Oscar Wilde.

REGINALD TURNER.
How long will you be staying in Paris Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
That is a good question Reggie. I suppose for a number of months, until I can sort out my life. At this moment, I have barely enjoyed minutes, not hours of my freedom.

ROBERT ROSS.
The important thing is that you are free Oscar. Whatever remains to be decided, can wait a bit, until you have determined the course of your life.

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed. I must proceed with my life, in spite of the past that seems to be present in my mind. Regrettably, that is the reminder of my predicament.

ROBERT ROSS.
Don't worry Oscar. You will not be alone. You have your friends to assist you, through the good and bad times that you will confront.

OSCAR WILDE.
I hope that I do not have to lean nor depend on you and the others for my daily doings and expenditures. I am afraid at the moment, I do not have much income to aspire to things of material grandeur.

REGINALD TURNER.
That is the least of your concerns Oscar. Concentrate on regaining your life and think of your children and Constance.

OSCAR WILDE.
There is not a day that passes that I do not think about my children. They are the greatest gift that God has given me. As for Constance, she wishes to not see me again.

ROBERT ROSS.
I will speak to her on your behalf Oscar. I am certain that she will eventually comprehend your desire to see the children and her.

OSCAR WILDE.
I cannot express in mere words my gratitude for everything you have done, in relation to Constance. I don't know what I would have done, without your loyalty Robbie.

REGINALD TURNER.
Have fate in Robert, Oscar. He has not failed you once.

OSCAR WILDE.
That I am certain of. In this life, a person cannot be selfish and live within his own morality. He must be in the company of wise and intellectual men.

ROBERT ROSS
Such as yourself. I am no one, without your gracious company and trust.

SCENE IV.

At the Hôtel de Nice in Paris, France.

Oscar is taken to the hotel, where he checks, under the pseudonym of Sebastian Melmoth. At his room, other friends have arranged a display of flowers, and a neat stack of books. There he meets Émile Zola and André Gide.

OSCAR WILDE.
What another marvellous surprise. I am totally flabbergasted. I don't know what to say, or what to do.

ROBERT ROSS.
I hope it is to your satisfaction and appeal Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
By all means Robbie. You know how much I adore books and flowers. They were what had comforted me the most, in my drear isolation of prison life.

ROBERT ROSS.
Enough of depressed thoughts. Let me introduce you to two of your devout admirers André Gide and Émile Zola.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
It is a pleasure to meet you Monsieur Wilde.

OSCAR WILDE.
No need for such formalities. You can call me just Oscar, like all my closest friends call me.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
You don't know Oscar, how much we have waited to have you here in Paris, with the social elites of the city.

OSCAR WILDE.
And I to know you both. There is nothing that warms my soul and my heart than to entertain others, who seek to be entertained by my presence.

ROBERT ROSS.
France is full of social elites that are eager to meet and see you Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
That I can imagine to be the case. Let us not bore them to death, with such frivolous minutiae. Amongst the poets of France, I shall find my true friends I believe.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
There are many people of the social class that have requested that I invite you to our soirées.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am flattered Monsieur Zola, but I have barely touched the ground of Paris.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
The Parisians adore you, Oscar. Please join our soirée. It would be a great honour to have you, as our special guest.

OSCAR WILDE.
It will be my honour to attend. I feel Parisian already gentlemen.

ROBERT ROSS.
I believe that Oscar. I hope your French has not left you.

OSCAR WILDE.
My French needs only a few weeks of adjusting my ear to its vernacular speech Robbie.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
You must forgive us Oscar, if our English sounds so foreign and so bad to your ears.

OSCAR WILDE.
And you must forgive me, if my French is worse.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
There is enough time for you to practise Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed! I can only hope that time will afford me the ability to be a better speaker. I am no Cyranno de Bergerac.

ROBERT ROSS.
I am certain that you are capable Oscar to adjusting yourself, to your new life in France.

SCENE V.

At the Hôtel Louvre Marsollier in Paris, France.

Wilde hands Ross an envelope that contains the manuscript of De Profundis, the 50, 000-word letter to Lord Alfred Douglas that he had finished, the previous March in his prison cell. He discusses the letter to Ross.

OSCAR WILDE.
There is something that I have been longing to do and must do.

ROBERT ROSS.
What are you talking about Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
My letter to Bosie.

ROBERT ROSS.
You mean De Profundis?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes. De Profundis.

ROBERT ROSS.
You have it with you?

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed. (Wilde gives Ross the letter.)

ROBERT ROSS.
What do you want me to do with it?

OSCAR WILDE.
Keep it. For it belongs to the readers of posterity, who will know of my soul and heart.

ROBERT ROSS.
Don't worry Oscar. I shall keep it and do what you instruct me.

OSCAR WILDE.
Make copies of it, before I send the original to Bosie.

ROBERT ROSS.
What do you expect he will do with the original letter?

OSCAR WILDE.
That I don't have a clue. He has always been difficult to determine his moods. Sometimes he can be the gentlest man, and sometimes he can be the naivest man.

ROBERT ROSS.
What if he tears the letter? What will you do next?

OSCAR WILDE.
If that happens, then there is little I can do Robbie.

ROBERT ROSS.
Will you write him again, if he choses to destroy the letter?

OSCAR WILDE.
No, why should I? It is his choice in the end.

ROBERT ROSS.
You have been kind to him for him to abandon you now.

OSCAR WILDE.
He was once obedient and faithful to our affection.

ROBERT ROSS.
Do you doubt that affection?

OSCAR WILDE.
Until I see him, I cannot answer that question with a measure of candour.

ROBERT ROSS.
And his betrayal? Have you forgotten that?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes his betrayal. I am trying to not be bitter.

ACT 2.

SCENE I.

At the Hôtel Louvre Marsollier, Paris, France.

Ada Leverson visits Wilde in Paris months later. It is one out of two visits that she had with Oscar Wilde.

ADA LEVERSON.
What a pleasure it is to see you again Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
Sphinx—you look ravishing my dear.

ADA LEVERSON.
And you look ever more ravishing Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
What a joy to see you in Paris, after I last saw you in England.

ADA LEVERSON.
I came with my husband to Paris, and I thought that I would pay you a visit Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
How is he doing presently? I hope that he is in fine fettle.

ADA LEVERSON.
He is indeed and yourself?

OSCAR WILDE.
I am bit overstuffed at the moment. I must blame those exquisite foods at these French restaurants, for they do entice the appetite of a man.

ADA LEVERSON.
The most important thing Oscar, is that you are doing well. What have you been writing lately? I have not heard much from you.

OSCAR WILDE.
I have taken the name of Sebastian Melmoth. I have been writing letters. I have written a long letter to the Daily Chronicle, which they printed on, about the urgent need for prison reform. I had complained with particular indignation and eloquence, about the ill treatment of children in the system. I plan on writing a second letter, about the prison reform that is being spoken in the House of Commons.

ADA LEVERSON
And of Constance? Have you heard anything from her?

OSCAR WILDE.
It brings a sudden sigh upon my face, but since our legal separation. I have not spoken much to her in person. After our rancorous discussion, she agreed to offer me an annual allowance of £150 a year, on condition that I did not get in touch with her, or the children without her permission. She has prohibited me from seeing Lord Alfred Douglas.

ADA LEVERSON.
Do you not miss her, if I may be bold to ask?

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed, I do! But there is little I can do to convince her of my love for her.

ADA LEVERSON.
And of Lord Alfred Douglas? What has become of your love for him?

OSCAR WILDE.
That virginal love that we once had, still waits to be blossomed, like a spring flower. I feel like a hummingbird, yearning for his midday nectar.

ADA LEVERSON.
Do you love Lord Alfred Douglas, as much as Constance?

OSCAR WILDE.
That I cannot answer.

ADA LEVERSON.
Certainly, your heart must know and tell you.

OSCAR WILDE.
My heart can only know what it beats and for whom it beats, yet my mind has not convinced me of whom of the two is the better love. You see Sphinx—love is not gender related nor should it be. I merely love, not for the sake of love, but for the passion it holds over me. I would be a blind man, without it.

ADA LEVERSON.
I understand. How I wish that love was not that complicated.

OSCAR WILDE.
It is not really. It just seems to be complicated. We are the ones Sphinx that complain about it, with our ignorance. You see, love is like the morning petals that we pluck. It is gentle, affectionate and above all, it has a recognisable scent that smells like spring.

SCENE II.

At the home of Constance Wilde in England.

Robert Ross pays a visit to Constance, who he had maintained communication with, during Wilde's imprisonment. Informing her about Oscar's whereabouts and status in France.

ROBERT ROSS.
Good morning, Constance. Can I speak to you in privacy?

CONSTANCE WILDE.
Of course!

ROBERT ROSS.
I will not take much of your time. I came here to speak to you about Oscar.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
What has he done now? What trouble is he in?

ROBERT ROSS.
No trouble. I just wanted to inform you about him. That is all!

CONSTANCE WILDE.
I have not seen him since, I had last visited him in prison. I hope that he is doing fine. I say this for not only my sake, but for the sake of the children.

ROBERT ROSS.
Don't worry, he is doing fine. We both correspond in letters, when I am not in Paris.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
About what, if I may ask?

ROBERT ROSS.
About many things, his daily affairs, his new surroundings, his new acquaintances. And about you.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
About me you say? What does he exactly tell you Robert?

ROBERT ROSS.
He tells me that he still loves you, and his affection for you is as pure and genuine, as a token of spring.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
I want to believe that Robert, but it seems to me that he is desperate to see his children. I am extremely cautious about that.

ROBERT ROSS.
I know, and you have every right to be like that. I only know, what he has informed me.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
You know the reason, why he is not allowed to see his children.

ROBERT ROSS.
Yes I know.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
Let me ask you Robert, what does he feel for Lord Alfred Douglass? Has he seen him already? Has he gone back to his wanton ways?

ROBERT ROSS.
That I cannot answer Constance. All I know, is what he writes me. I have not seen him, since I last saw him in Paris. I plan on visiting him soon.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
If and when you do, then tell him that he knows the conditions that I have demanded from him since the beginning, which are few. Most importantly, that he not see Lord Alfred Douglass again.

ROBERT ROSS.
I will. I would hope that in the future, the both of you can reconcile in some degree of co-existence. For the sake of the children. After all, he is the boys' father.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
I shall take that to great consideration Robert.

ROBERT ROSS.
I am glad that you see it that way. I know that there is still love in you for Oscar.

CONSTANCE WILDE.
Whatever love may still be there, it is slowly fading, like the flame of a candle.

SCENE III.

At the Saint-Germain-des-Prés café in Paris, France.

Wilde is in the company of his French friends, Émile Zola and André Gide. They visit venues, havens for the alienated, where the bohemian literati would gather to enjoy Paris’s carefree, libertine spirit.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
Paris is quickly becoming the place to be for the daring and innovative artists of today.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
It has always been like that, ever since the Period of Romanticism. What do you think Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
I must agree with the both of you.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
How? Please explain.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
Yes–please explain. I am eager to hear your opinion, Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
Paris has always blossomed since the time of De La Tour, Le Brun till the modern epoch of Monet and Van Gogh. Therefore, it is neither incorrect to state either position.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
Your point is well-expressed and well thought out Oscar. Your ingenuity amazes me every time.

OSCAR WILDE.
If I am to die one day gentlemen, let me die in Paris and let my headstone reflect the words of ''Here lieth a great man of the vanguard, whose only crime was to be a genius."

ANDRÉ GIDE.
I must applaud those words of yours Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
You would not be the first to have applauded anything I have said or declared.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
The world of today is full of pseudo intellectuals and demigods that think that know better than we do.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is precisely the problem, mes amis. The world of today is governed by brazen fools that think that they can rule, with divine law and interpretation.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Why is that so Oscar? It seems to be more the case in England than in France.

OSCAR WILDE.
Your wit is splendid André. To answer your question, England has reverted to its old Puritan ways. They much bore me death, for there is little freedom of expression. Thus, the artist dies with his artistry.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
How can it be a sin to love someone? Only because that lover is a man.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is what I call the love that dares not speak its name.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
What was your crime, to love a man?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes, you can say it in that way.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
But what is the love that dares not speak its name?

OSCAR WILDE
You yourself should know André. It is the noblest of all affections shared, between an older man and a younger man. It is no different than the love between a man for a woman, with one exception, that is it sorely misunderstood in this century.

SCENE IV.

At Rouen, France.

Lord Alfred Douglas and Oscar Wilde finally meet at the train station. They had not seen each other since his visit to the prison, when Wilde was first detained.

OSCAR WILDE.
Bosie, it is a pleasure to see you again, after all these months that have passed. How fain of you to welcome me, your dearest Oscar. Will you not embrace me? (They embrace).

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
Long last, I see you again Oscar. I never thought this day would come so soon, after what happened between us.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is all in the past Bosie. I have been given a fresh start, and so have we. I have longed for the taste of your lips and the touch of your skin.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I was not certain that you still wanted to see me Oscar. After receiving your last letter?

OSCAR WILDE.
You received my letter then?

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
Yes, but I am afraid that I tore it apart. I was upset at you, for blaming me for your imprisonment and downfall.

OSCAR WILDE.
I don't blame you Bosie. You had every right to feel that way, but know that I wrote that letter out of spite towards you.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I too must confess, I was angry at you.

OSCAR WILDE.
And now? What do you feel at this moment, seeing me anew?

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I don't exactly know what I feel.

OSCAR WILDE.
Is it love or it is friendship?

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I know only one thing that I am certain of, and that is that you are the dearest of all my affections, but to call that love or friendship. I don't know what I feel anymore, at this point in time.

OSCAR WILDE.
I understand. We have been away from each other, for a long time it seems, but since we are here and together, why not enjoy each other's company, as we once did.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I agree.

OSCAR WILDE.
Your youth I admire, as you admire my aging wisdom.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
Where have you gone in Paris? Who have you met there?

OSCAR WILDE.
I have been to the most extravagant boulevards and café terraces in Paris, so far. I have met new Parisian friends, who I shall introduce you to them. There are rather entertaining.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
I am looking forward to that Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
There is time for that, and for many other things Bosie. For now, let's leave this wretched train station. I would love for you to show me Rouen.

LORD ALFRED DOUGLAS.
You will like it here. It is very quaint and picturesque.

OSCAR WILDE.
I imagine it is, but it is you who I came to spent time with, to rekindle lost time. If I could only return to the past, and to those times, we both had cherished the most. (They both embrace at the arm).

SCENE V.

At the Café de la Paix in Paris, France.

Wilde is accompanied by André Gide, who joins him for baguettes, as a prelude to a morning of literary debate.

OSCAR WILDE.
The more that I taste of these baguettes of Paris, the more that I find myself drawn to their appeal.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Baguettes are always the Parisian thing to eat in the morning Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
In the time that I have been here, I have been enlightened by the exquisite food and remarkable poets I have met. I have always been fond of the notion that good food makes good thoughts. What good is an empty stomach?

ANDRÉ GIDE.
True to your words Oscar. I admire your intellect and your wit.

OSCAR WILDE.
I must confess that I am known for my epigrams and I must profess that without my wit, I would be a tedious and ordinary fellow.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Never my friend. You know how to entertain and embellish a conversation.

OSCAR WILDE.
But I have been told that I made Victor Hugo drift off into a short slumber, with my English speech.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Forgive me, if it may appear that way. It is nothing of your doing.

OSCAR WILDE.
If I do bore you to death André, know that you are not the first, nor shall be the last to be lulled into the arms of Morpheus.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
I heard you have admirers, such as Stéphane Mallarmé, Ernest Raynaud, Alphonse Daudet, Paul Bourget, and Paul Verlaine. I was told that you had been reading Dante, while you were in prison and after your release.

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes! I found Dante to be very stimulating and healthy to the mind.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
I cannot imagine, what prison life was for you Oscar. It must have been unbearable and cruel to endure.

OSCAR WILDE.
It was indeed. I went from one prison to another. I thought I would loose my mind. I was fortunate that the last warden I had in Reading Gaol allowed me to write three pages a day, then the previous warden, who had allowed me to write only one page a day.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
It must have been hell, my friend.

OSCAR WILDE.
If there is an actual hell, then what I experimented there in prison was far worse than any hell elaborated in holy scriptures.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
What did you do to survive, under such harsh conditions and state of mind?

OSCAR WILDE.
That my dear André, is a fantastic question to ask. I suppose there are not any words in the English language that could embody in its entirety, the toilsome dreariness and solitude that I confronted daily, except the word boredom.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
What do you mean by that?

OSCAR WILDE.
Don't misconstrue my words. I did suffer physically and mentally, but I was so drained and fatigue, with the solitude that any thoughts and emotions were empty of reason and artistic expression.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Can I give you some advice Oscar? One that will be beneficial to your time here in Paris, never be someone else. That in itself, is monotonous. Be yourself. You once said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

OSCAR WILDE.
Indeed! If it was not for the wretched circumstance of my situation, I would not go under the name of Sebastian Melmoth. Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. I am tired of not being myself, Oscar Wilde. I shall throw a party. You and the others must come.

SCENE VI

At a chalet in Paris, France.

Oscar has rented a chalet. In spite of his visible disappointment about not being able to see either his children nor Lord Alfred Douglas, he distracts himself and with others, by giving a party to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am glad that the both of you came tonight to join in this festivity.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
What a wonderful occasion, you have chosen Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes. I wanted to commemorate our beloved Queen Victoria.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
I envy the English for maintaining their royalty. There is something about the English that we French have seem to have forgotten and that is great solemnity.

OSCAR WILDE.
As an Irishman, I must admit, I have mix feelings. My mother was a staunch supporter of the Irish cause, and I grew up with that notion. That was until I went to Oxford and had distracted myself with the beauty of aesthetics. I have learnt the meanings, about kalon and calisteia.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Which concept do you admire and consider your trait?

OSCAR WILDE.
I prefer to believe in both. One is aesthetic beauty and the other, the moral beauty.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
I was never a follower of Greek philosophy, but you have explained it so eloquently.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
I admired Socrates and Plato.

OSCAR WILDE.
Socrates once said that aesthetics was a form of purity and Plato said beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
The Greeks were unique people. Their customs and way of thinking were truly unmatched.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Many of them had lovers of which today's society frown upon and call ill will of perversion.

OSCAR WILDE.
So true André. It was a different society and one that was more tolerant to what is called in this modern century, unnatural. I remember Sarah Bernhardt once said to me in England that she was a déniaiseuse.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
How are we to understand those ancient societies in comparison to now?

OSCAR WILDE.
There needs not to be a comparison Émile, but if one was made, then it was drawn from the difference between the puritanical beliefs of today that religion has imposed, compared to the inherent sagacity of the Greeks.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
When will we return to the past and be much more accepting of the affection displayed by the same gender.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am not a politician André. I am merely an artist. Remember that life imitates art far more than art imitates life. I have often said that if one could only teach the English how to talk and the Irish how to listen, then society would be quite civilised.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
You should be a politician, Oscar. Your wit and creativity are unlike, any boring French politician I have met in my life.

ÉMILE ZOLA.
I agree with that analogy.

OSCAR WILDE.
No great artist ever sees things as they really are in their maturation. If he did, he would ultimately cease to be a genuine artist. The world will know that Oscar Wilde has returned, and Sebastian Melmoth has died. Enough of politics and let us enjoy the festive occasion, for which we have gathered here tonight. The commemoration of Queen Victoria. We shall leave that conversation gentlemen, for our rendezvous, at the Café de la Paix or Café de Flore.

ACT III

SCENE I.

At the chalet in Paris, France.

Robert Ross visits Wilde. There they discuss openly, the affairs of Constance and of Lord Alfred Douglass.

OSCAR WILDE.
Robbie old boy, you don't know much I missed you. My conversations on the intellectual side always seem to be more developed, when we converse.

ROBERT ROSS.
I'll take that as a compliment Oscar. How is Paris treating you?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes, take it as a heartfelt compliment. In Paris, one can go where one likes, and no one dreams of criticising one. That is the beauty of Paris.

ROBERT ROSS.
Sometimes, I don't know if you are jesting or are serious.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is a good point, but believe me, when I say it is a honest compliment, which I don't seem to share more often than I did before. Perchance, that is due to the fact that I grow old. I dread that feeling of aging. I fear the thought of being a hoary man.

ROBERT ROSS.
Why Oscar? Aging is a natural process of life.

OSCAR WILDE.
I know that Robbie, but it is not something I welcome with open arms. Am I too shallow and selfish in my desire to not age?

ROBERT ROSS.
I would not say that exactly.

OSCAR WILDE.
There is something about aging that simply frightens me.

ROBERT ROSS.
Quite understandable, but not everyone has the grandeur of Oscar Wilde.

OSCAR WILDE.
Your flattering is always rewarding, as far as I am concern. What would I do without your friendship?

ROBERT ROSS.
I suppose, you would replace me with another.

OSCAR WILDE.
I can't even imagine that possibility. You have always been there for me in the good and bad. You know me better than I do.

ROBERT ROSS.
I will take that, as another compliment Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
How is Constance? Have you heard from her?

ROBERT ROSS.
She is coping with the situation the best she can.

OSCAR WILDE.
I know. I have brought upon her much shame and unwanted publicity. I admire her courage. And the children, how are they faring, under the circumstances?

ROBERT ROSS.
They too are coping, but they are much too young Oscar to know what is happening.

OSCAR WILDE.
I pity their poor souls. They don't know the shame of their father, but one day they will grow to adulthood and be aware of their father's trials and tribulations. What can I do to see them? Can you not tell Constance that it breaks my heart to not see them?

ROBERT ROSS.
That I can do. What I cannot guarantee you, is that she will allow you to see them.

OSCAR WILDE.
Where is she presently living at?

ROBERT ROSS.
She is in Switzerland Oscar. She is not aware of your letters to Lord Alfred Douglas.

OSCAR WILDE.
Good, for it would destroy her.

ROBERT ROSS.
And of Lord Alfred Douglas? Have you seen him yet in France?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes, I have Robbie. He has brought back my old feelings for him and that pure affection that I had for him. I can resist everything except the grasp of temptation.

ROBERT ROSS.
Was it you that said to me before, that you did not wish to see him anymore?

OSCAR WILDE.
True. I cannot deceive you, as I can deceive Bosie.

ROBERT ROSS.
What has changed?

OSCAR WILDE.
Everything! I no longer harbour the resentment and poison for him, as I had in prison. Seeing him again, rekindled the flame that he once stoked in me. You don't love someone for that person's stunning appearance, or the clothes that lover wears, but because that lover sings a beautiful song only you can hear clearly.

ROBERT ROSS.
How ironic, not too long ago, he was the devil to you incarnated.

OSCAR WILDE.
I know that you still have affection for me Robbie, and your envy of Bosie blinds your comprehension. Know that our time together was special, but what I feel for Bosie is something I cannot explain with mere words, except to say that it is the noblest affection I have ever shared.

ROBERT ROSS.
And of Constance?

OSCAR WILDE.
Hers is a love between a man and a woman, but it does not stir the authentic passion that Bosie stirs. You know the only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a glorious past, and every sinner has a semblance of a troubled future.

SCENE II.

At the Café de la Paix in Paris, France.

Wilde is joined at the café, by the poet Jean Moréas. They discuss Oscar Wilde's writing of The Ballad of the Reading Gaol poem.

OSCAR WILDE.
I have become accustomed to French pastry, aside from its dinners. I fear that I am getting fatter by the day. I believe I have the simplest of tastes. I am always very satisfied with the best that I can have.

JEAN MOREAS.
I think you are becoming more of a Frenchman than an Irishman Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
I wonder, if you speak the truth. I am so clever that sometimes I don't quite understand a single word of what I say. Nevertheless, I much prefer the cuisine of Paris than that of London.

JEAN MOREAS.
We could discuss food all day and night, but I am curious to know, about your writing. Have you written anything lately, a play or a poem?

OSCAR WILDE.
Nothing impressive. Just a mere poem that I began in prison. I would find more interesting anything you write.

JEAN MOREAS.
Your flatter me with your natural charm.

OSCAR WILDE.
You are not the first, nor the last man to say that about me.

JEAN MOREAS.
What is the title of the poem?

OSCAR WILDE.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol.

JEAN MOREAS.
What is it about?

OSCAR WILDE.
If you must know, it is about my wretched experience in prison.

JEAN MOREAS.
How much have you written so far Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
That is an excellent question. I don't really know. Several pages. I keep on editing and revising the poem. That is why, it is not finished.

JEAN MOREAS.
Whenever you have finished, let me know, so that I could be the first that declares your poem, an instant success.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is if I don't bore you to death, like I bored Victor Hugo at times.

JEAN MOREAS.
Don't worry, I shall not be distracted by your parlance.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am truly a bohemian at heart, and my artistry defines the maturation of my soul. I strongly believe that art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.

JEAN MOREAS.
I must admit that I too have experienced this sentiment, when I write.

OSCAR WILDE.
Perhaps, it makes us kindred souls Jean.

JEAN MOREAS.
Always with your wit to begin and to end a conversation.

OSCAR WILDE.
My dear Jean. For without it, I would be nothing more than an ordinary man, who pleases no one in this world.

SCENE III.

At the home of André Gide in Paris, France.

Wilde visits Gide, to ask him for advice on Lord Alfred Douglass.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Oscar, I was not expecting you. What has brought you to my home?

OSCAR WILDE.
André, my good friend. I must speak to you about a private matter that concerns me.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
You seem very occupied with your thoughts. What troubles you, Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE
Where do I even begin?

ANDRÉ GIDE.
From the beginning naturally.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am certain that you have heard the infamous name of Lord Alfred Douglass.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Yes, I have. What do I need to know about him? Has he died?

OSCAR WILDE.
Nothing of that sort. I wanted to tell you that I have secretly seen him.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Where?

OSCAR WILDE.
At Rouen.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Why? I was under the impression that he was the cause to your imprisonment.

OSCAR WILDE
I must confess that I once had believed that.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
What has changed Oscar?

OSCAR WILDE.
Everything.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Do you plan on seeing him again?

OSCAR WILDE.
That is the thing, I am planning on visiting him in Naples.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
Is it the love that you once professed for him?

OSCAR WILDE.
It is that indeed, that affection that is noble and natural.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
When do you plan on seeing him in Naples?

OSCAR WILDE.
Soon. I shall rent a villa once I am there.

ANDRÉ GIDE.
If your feelings for him dictate this course, then my suggestion to you, is to do what your heart tells you to do.

OSCAR WILDE.
That is precisely, what I was thinking. Perhaps I shall commit that same mistake in trusting him, but he has been there for me, even when I was mad at him. Socrates had once said, ''When desire, having rejected reason and overpowered judgement which leads to right, is set in the direction of the pleasure which beauty can inspire, and when again under the influence of its kindred desires it is moved with violent motion towards the beauty of corporeal forms, it acquires a surname from this very violent motion, and is called love''. That is the beauty of aesthetics.

SCENE IV.

At the chalet in Paris, France

Wilde is visited by his good friend Frank Harris, who visits him, after Harris' trip to England.

OSCAR WILDE.
Frank, where have you been that it has been aeons, since I last saw you?

FRANK HARRIS.
Oscar. Forgive me my old friend. I was occupied in London, tending to a personal matter, all this time.

OSCAR WILDE.
I am glad to see you. I hope that whatever this personal matter is, it does not affect you.

FRANK HARRIS.
It is nothing that I cannot sort out in time, but it does involve you.

OSCAR WILDE.
In what manner?

FRANK HARRIS.
There is talk that your plays will be banished for good, and your name tarnished forever.

OSCAR WILDE.
I was afraid of that, but there is nothing in the course of legal action that I can take that would salvage my reputation. It has been tainted, by the inficete fools that deem me unworthy of their acclamation. They are waiting for every labile misfortune of mine.

FRANK HARRIS.
I regret that I had to visit you, with this terrible pretext in mind.

OSCAR WILDE.
It's not your bloody fault. I blame those that had imprisoned me. Their eyes and only theirs, sought it befitting to condemn me and ostracise me to the exile of which, I am currently an example of that cruelty.

FRANK HARRIS.
Don't let it bring you down Oscar. You are much to intelligent to be defeated by their balderdash.

OSCAR WILDE.
I have heard that a thousand times, but I appreciate your devotion to my name and loyalty to my persona.

FRANK HARRIS.
Has Paris treated you well, during your stay in the city?

OSCAR WILDE.
Yes it has. I am planning on visiting such places as Italy and Switzerland.

FRANK HARRIS.
For fun or for writing?

OSCAR WILDE.
For both of them.

FRANK HARRIS.
Have you finished the Ballad of Reading Gaol yet?

OSCAR WILDE.
Not yet. I hope soon.

FRANK HARRIS.
That is good to hear.

OSCAR WILDE.
Why are my plays still banned?

FRANK HARRIS.
Because of your reputation Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
I had never imagined that it would go this extreme point of exile. I am literally bankrupt in life and in soul.

FRANK HARRIS.
Sadly Oscar, it will take time before London Society forgives you. But when it does, alive or not, you shall be immortalised. That I do not doubt one bit.

OSCAR WILDE.
Immortality, is what all writers seek in one form or the other. To live Frank is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.

FRANK HARRIS.
You must not succumb to the temptation of ruination.

OSCAR WILDE.
Frank my good friend, I have lost the mainspring of life and art–I have pleasures, and passions, but the joy of life is gone. I am going under, for the morgue yawns for me. Sometimes, I do not know if I shall ever write. Something is killed in me. I feel no desire to write. I am unconscious of power. Naturally, my first year in prison had destroyed my body and soul.

SCENE V.

At the Café Les Deux Magots, in Paris, France.

Wilde joins his Parisian friends, Stéphane Mallarme and Paul Verlaine.

OSCAR WILDE.
I hope the day brings us more sunshine than rain. It looks like we might be interrupted messieurs, by the draught and rain.

STEPHANE MALLARME.
It will most likely rain, but not after we have left.

PAUL VERLAINE.
I hope that you are correct Stéphane. I detest being drenched by the rain, in such early hours of the morning.

OSCAR WILDE.
There is little, we can do messieurs. Why do we spend our time dawdling in the raptures of Mother Nature? I have brought my umbrella in case.

PAUL VERLAINE.
I was reading Dorian Gray, Oscar.

OSCAR WILDE.
What did you think about my book?

STEPHAN MALLARME.
It was a splendid masterpiece.

OSCAR WILDE.
And you Paul?

PAUL VERLAINE.
I was intrigued from the beginning to the end, but I have two questions to ask that left me pondering.

OSCAR WILDE.
What questions would they be?

PAUL VERLAINE.
Who influenced you to write Dorian Gray, and how much was it reflected of you?

OSCAR WILDE.
Would you believe me if I said that Robert de Montesquiou had inspired me?

PAUL VERLAINE.
Did he really?

OSCAR WILDE.
That will be my secret for the posterity to reveal. As for your second question, there are those that say I am vain in person and less humble in nature. The truth is rarely pure and never simply in life.

STEPHAN MALLARME.
I admire that of your character. Did you admire Dorian Gray?

OSCAR WILDE.
Would you believe me, if I said that I did? He was me in a sort of way.

STEPHAN MALLARME.
It is often that we find ourselves mirroring our real life. I have not met a poet nor writer that has not introduced, some form of his personal traits into his craft.

OSCAR WILDE.
I agree.

PAUL VERLAINE.
I wonder why it is seen as perversion, by your critics in England?

OSCAR WILDE.
I would imagine, because Dorian Gray epitomises, everything wrong about Victorian Society. But there is one thing that I wanted to express and that was his obsessive vanity. There are only two known tragedies in life, one is not getting what one ultimately wants, and the other is getting it at whatever cost.

PAUL VERLAINE.
Are we to understand that, as your vanity?

OSCAR WILDE.
The difference between Dorian Gray and I, is that I am no young Adonis, and I don't want to be like that. Why would I bore myself with just physical beauty to represent me in my quintessence? Moreover, I am more intellectual, and have the savoir-faire that he could never obtain in life wittingly.

Part 1

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Franc68
Lorient Montaner
About This Story
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5 Jul, 2023
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